We carried out a genome-wide association and replication study for blood pressure in a two-stage approach (max N = 289,038) with a discovery stage sample of 130,777 East Asian individuals, identifying 19 new genetic loci. We found a significant genetic heterogeneity between East Asian and European-descent populations at several blood pressure loci, conforming to “a common ancestry-specific variant association model”. At 6 unique loci, distinct non-rare (or common) ancestry-specific variants co-localized within the same linkage disequilibrium block despite the significantly discordant direction of effects for the proxy shared variants between the ethnic groups. The genome-wide transethnic correlation of causal-variant effect sizes is 0.898 and 0.851 for systolic and diastolic blood pressure, respectively. Some of the ancestry-specific association signals were also influenced by a selective sweep. Our results provide new evidence for the role of common ancestry-specific variants and natural selection in the occurrence of ethnic differences in complex traits such as blood pressure.